'If it weren’t for my mum...’ : the influence of Australian Indigenous mothers on their children’s aspirations to teach

Santoro, Ninetta (2010) 'If it weren’t for my mum...’ : the influence of Australian Indigenous mothers on their children’s aspirations to teach. Gender and Education, 22 (4). pp. 419-429. ISSN 0954-0253

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Abstract

This article draws upon data from semi‐structured interviews with Australian Indigenous teachers to explore the role their mothers played in shaping their decisions to become teachers. The findings suggest that their mothers’ emotional involvement and investment in their sons’ and daughters’ education generated significant reserves of emotional capital upon which the teachers drew. Such capital, expressed by their mothers in a variety of ways, including encouragement, coercion and anger, motivated and inspired them to complete their schooling, to consider teaching as a profession and to take out teaching degrees, often in the face of enormous challenges and barriers. They understood teaching as presenting opportunities for their own upward class mobility as well as the chance for them to bring about social change for Indigenous people in general. I conclude by arguing the need to reconsider the dominant discourses in Australia around the aspirations of Indigenous mothers in regards to their children’s education and I also raise issues for further consideration and research.